Japan is considering giving visa-free status to holders of Special Administrative Region passports, diplomats say. Holders of Hong Kong travel documents, including the British National (Overseas) passport, currently need a visa for Japan. Chinese and Hong Kong Government officials have begun talks with Japan on the SAR passports. In a promotion drive to Japan this month, senior Chinese official Lu Ping asked for support from Japan for visa-free privileges for SAR passport holders. Only 48 countries have been given visa-free status by Japan. A Japanese diplomat said: 'We'd like to do something to confirm the special status of the SAR passport. 'But the difficulty is that the SAR passport itself is a new passport and has not been tested.' It is understood the Foreign Ministry is in favour of visa-free status, while the Ministry of Justice is less willing. About 93,000 Hong Kong people visited Japan last year, while more than one million Japanese visited the territory. Only 88 Hong Kong people were found to be illegal workers in Japan in 1994. And Japanese officials said the problem of overstayers from Hong Kong was not serious. However, more information was needed on the nationality and passport issue, including the right of abode, before a final decision could be taken, diplomats said. Head of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Japan, David Lan Hong-tsung, said he had raised the issue with Japanese officials and was told they were willing to consider it.